Young student union activists have asked other conference delegates to wave with ‘jazz hands’ instead of clapping or cheering speakers in case it ‘triggers anxiety’ among nervous members.
Hundreds were asked to wave in silence because other people found ‘whooping’ to be ‘super inaccessible’.
The request was made at the National Union of Students’ annual Women’s Conference in Solihull, West Midlands, which started yesterday.
NUS Women’s Campaign tweeted: ‘Whooping is fun for some, but can be super inaccessible for others, so please try not to whoop! Jazz hands work just as well.’
They then followed that with: ‘Some delegates are requesting that we move to jazz hands rather than clapping, as it’s triggering anxiety. Please be mindful! #nuswomen15’.
Critics have said the messages had ‘damaged feminism’.
Tara Hewitt tweeted: ‘This damages real equality nothing from conference will make a difference today but “jazz hands” nonsense damaged feminism’.
Others lampooned the instructions online.
@JLat55 tweeted: ‘Open palms can be triggering. Well, so can closed ones… you should just ban any outward expression of approval.’
The suggestions got more ridiculous and ironic with @BookGeek-T tweeting: ‘@nuswomcam @Little-G2 hi, jazz hands can be triggering because of the quick movement of the hands. I vote blinking rapidly instead. Thanks’.
Despite the jokes the NUS has said that it is important that they are inclusive.
Nona Buckley-Irvine, General secretary at the London School of Economics Students’ Union, said: ‘Jazz hands are used throughout NUS in place of clapping as a way to show appreciation of someone’s point without interrupting or causing disturbance, as it can create anxiety.
‘I’m relatively new to this and it did feel odd at first, but once you’ve used jazz hands a couple of times it becomes a genuinely nice way to show solidarity with a point and it does add to creating a more inclusive atmosphere.’
LSE SU women’s officer Gee Linford-Grayson added: ‘As someone who is new to the NUS conference culture it surprised me at first, but actually within a few rounds of jazz hands applause it began to make a lot of sense, as loud clapping and whooping can be intimidating and distracting when you’re speaking on stage.
‘Plus who doesn’t like jazz hands?!’
The annual event decides the female issues for the NUS to campaign on, and elects the campaign’s representatives.
An NUS spokesperson said: ‘The request was made by some delegates attending the conference.
‘We strive to make NUS events accessible and enjoyable for all, so each request is considered.’
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